Monthly Mentor

Jody Boyer (August)
Jody Boyer is a visual artist and arts educator originally from Portland, Oregon. In her studio practice she explores the broad interdisciplinary possibilities of traditional and new media with a specific interest in personal memory, cinema, landscape and a sense of place. She received her B.A. in Studio Arts from Reed College, her M.A. in Intermedia and Video Art from the University of Iowa, and her K-12 teaching certificate at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.  Her artwork has been shown in over 25 exhibitions across the country. Click "GO" to read her full bio.

Go

Membership

Join the largest creative community established exclusively for visual arts educators, college professors, researchers, administrators, and museum educators.

Join NAEA Renew Membership

« March 2010 | Main | May 2010 »

Thursday 04.29.10

Visual Culture Art Education

Since this is the final monthly mentor entry for me I want to thank all of you who responded to this topic. For those of you who have not had the opportunity to respond more dialogues need to occur, as visual culture is here to stay. Art educators are the ones that have to bring this issue to the forefront. As a discipline that is based on the visual we as art educators are trained to see things with a critical eye that others may not possess.

Therefore, we as art educators are accountable socially to do whatever we can to counteract the negative imagery that many adolescents seem to gravitate to. Whether we acknowledge it or not visual culture affects all of us in one way or another. Sometimes it affects us in ways that we don’t even realize. One example of this is when you see the hamburger commercial and then all of a sudden feel compelled to go to purchase one. Are we buying it because we are hungry or are we beckoned by the up close visual image of the burger?

Subliminally, many of us are influenced to take a different perspective on important issues after seeing short commercials or infomercials over and over again. Visual repetition is a powerful mechanism that intensifies our memory of a situation as the brain records the things we see and hear. This was evident to me as I conducted research. The participants were able to verbally rap out the lyrics and describe the imagery that was associated with them explicitly.

Thanks to Linda Scott for posting the information, as I know that it is a lot of work for someone who has so many other responsibilities. In closing, possibly something was said on this blog to inspire educators to take a hard look at the visual culture that seems to have control on many adolescents. Take care all. I enjoyed serving as your monthly mentor for April 2010.

-Zerric Clinton ABD
Art Teacher
Cairo High School
Cairo, GA 39828

Tuesday 04.27.10

Visual Culture Art Education

As I looked at the news today I noticed that the visual culture of popular music videos keeps getting attention. To preface this latest music video with questionable visual culture I have to go back a few weeks to the “Window Seat” music video by song stress Erykah Badu. Originally, I had no idea why the news media conglomerates and radio stations were all talking about her music video. Frankly, I like Erykah Badu’s music. She has a beautiful voice that I enjoy listening to. However, when I did get a chance to view the music video I understood why some people were so outraged. Basically, the music video entails the artist getting out of a car and eventually walking down the street as she disposes of each artifact of clothing. Yes, each artifact! I was surprised as well when at the end of the music video she bares all. I cannot speak for anyone else of course, but I think that parents especially were upset since as she walked in the music video kids witnessed her disrobe. Possibly, if the kids were not a part of the viewing population the parents might not see it that way. As a fan of Erykah Badu I wondered why she went to this extreme as well. On a talk radio show a few days letter she explained her reasons for doing this. From what I understand this was a symbolic gesture that shows that she no longer worries about putting on a front for other people. In short, this was a liberation of sorts from the people who judge her. Now, the current music video of the Sri-Lankan singer/rapper M.I.A. that is getting so much attention has what some would call very graphic visual culture. The nine-minute video shows a police force rounding up young men and includes such graphic scenes such as a young man being shot point-blank in the head and another being blown to pieces. The graphic nature of this music video is not the only genre that this happens though. I think that it is important to note that graphic violence and sexual innuendo that pervades these two music videos is apparent in other forms of media such as movies, video games and magazines so this is a much bigger issue. Point-blank dramatizations can be found any night on public television in many households so it is not just music videos. Nevertheless, for those of you who are interested in this topic I would challenge you to take a look at these music videos and others that interest you and post your thoughts.

-Zerric Clinton ABD
Art Teacher
Cairo High School
Cairo, GA 39828

Friday 04.23.10

Visual Culture Art Education

At the NAEA conference last week I learned that there are several art educators who think that the visual culture has some type of influence on our students. During my presentation there were many questions about the method used to gather information about the adolescent males I researched but there were a couple that really stood out to me. One was whether I had considered doing a study like this with students who are part of other ethnic groups. As one person put it these response could easily be students from my school. These types of responses reinforce my belief that this is a topic that has to be addressed. The visual culture of music videos is only one aspect where provocative images are prevalent. Therefore, art educators have a task that includes assisting their students in ways that they will be able to decipher any type of image that they come across. Another question that was raised during my presentation was whether I had considered the role of the females in music videos. Specifically, one person asked if I considered interviewing females to get their take on the visual culture of popular music videos in reference to how they are portrayed. This is a great question as I wonder as well how the females see themselves in comparison to the portrayal of those of the female in gender in precarious situations. Do they think that the things females are doing in some music videos is appropriate or do they see the images as degrading.  Maybe, someone will conduct research in this area, as the time is now to address these issues. If we as educators don’t take an initiative here who will? I am eager to hear what the educators think about these images. That goes for the males and the females as both genders play a role in the visual culture of music videos.

-Zerric Clinton ABD
Art Teacher
Cairo High School
Cairo, GA 39828

Sunday 04.11.10

Visual Culture Art Education

Responses from this research study revealed that adolescents’ favorite videos are about sex, power and status. Also, during the observations it became evident that these videos are a sort of model for the lives of the participants. The question is if this is a good model or a negative model. Evidently, many of the participants appeared to see it as a positive model since their responses revealed that they are actually being socialized into the lifestyles displayed in popular music videos. What are the educators seeing in regard to this? Are their displays of behavior that are similar to the visual culture pervading music videos? In this research study it was easy to conclude that the participants have really been trapped into thinking that the best models for life are reflected in what is seen in a four to six minute video clip of a popular music video.

Furthermore, their responses showed that adolescents have little knowledge about how these artists they seem to idolize actually live in their daily lives. Evidently, the participants reflect minimally about the consequences of trying to attain material possessions in the negative ways their favorite artist rap about. They want to get the things that are present in their favorite music video and have an attitude of whatever it takes I will get it. This is a dangerous thought process because they fail to take into account the consequences of seeking material things through negative means. It appears that they have an unquenchable affection for the possessions of these musicians and are willing to mimic their actions with little regard for the costs.

Why is that the visual culture of music videos seems so irresistible? Is it because major media conglomerates study and target adolescents or is it because the music videos have elements in them that adolescents relate to? It would be easy to promote the latter but if we search the history of those companies that show music videos twenty-four hours a day we will find that it may not be totally in their hands. Music videos are developed in ways to attract viewers and many of the videos the adolescents in this study like house objectified images of the female body, expensive clothing, even more expensive automobiles and unfortunately many images and references to illegal drugs. Twenty-four hour total access to music videos is also a problem for adolescent that don’t have the critical thinking skills to deconstruct the visual culture to make sense of what they are seeing. With the advent of innumerable technological advances adolescent are able to view music videos via the internet on devices such as cellular phones, i-pods and play stations. This creates an atmosphere where they are able to not only recite a catchy tune in their heads it gives them an avenue to see the lyrics being acted out over and over again. This would not be a problem if the images were all positive but unfortunately often that is not the case. Each time they see elements such as scanty dressed women, expensive jewelry, expensive cars and references to different drug paraphernalia some of these participants’ perceptions are reinforced in a way that is not good for them. It appears that for many adolescents in this study their affinity for these elements has been galvanized into their minds as they rewind and play them out visually in their minds over and over again. This repetitive nature results in a deep-rooted kinship that results in a very deep emotional connection.

-Zerric Clinton ABD
Art Teacher
Cairo High School
Cairo, GA 39828

Thursday 04. 1.10

Visual Culture Art Education

What is Visual Culture and how does it impact students? It seems like a harmless topic that describes things that we see visually. The art side of me agrees with that idea, but I think it goes a bit deeper as it influences all of our lives. As a high school educator of 15 years I have noticed a shift in the dress, language, and actions of students that I have taught and I wondered what the cause of these changes was. As I pondered this topic, I thought, "where are they getting this style of dress, use of language and shift in actions?" So, I decided to ask.

Many of the students made comments like this is what my boy wears referring to some famous music artist that they see on television. When I delved a little deeper with the questions many went on to say that they were dressing like a particular rapper or hip-hop artist. That’s when the light bulb came on that this could possibly be coming from popular music videos and I began to piece together an idea to learn just how much the visual culture that they see in popular music videos impacted them. The result of this initial brainstorm was a research study where adolescents explained just how much the visual culture of popular music videos impacts them.

I would love to hear from all of the art educators in regard to whether there are things that your students are displaying that you think come from the visual culture that they see on a daily basis. What do you think of the visual culture of popular music videos? If you haven’t watched one lately, I challenge you to do so. You may be surprised to see what the adolescents are consuming in regard to what some call harmless entertainment. Let me know your thoughts. The monthly mentor segment is a great tool so let’s use it to get the word out about the influence visual culture appears to have on our students. 

Thanks,
Zerric Clinton ABD
Art Teacher
Cairo High School
455 5th Street SE
Cairo, GA 39828